Pesticides and human chronic diseases: evidences, mechanisms, and perspectives

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2013 Apr 15;268(2):157-77. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2013.01.025. Epub 2013 Feb 9.


Along with the wide use of pesticides in the world, the concerns over their health impacts are rapidly growing. There is a huge body of evidence on the relation between exposure to pesticides and elevated rate of chronic diseases such as different types of cancers, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson, Alzheimer, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), birth defects, and reproductive disorders. There is also circumstantial evidence on the association of exposure to pesticides with some other chronic diseases like respiratory problems, particularly asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease, chronic nephropathies, autoimmune diseases like systemic lupus erythematous and rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and aging. The common feature of chronic disorders is a disturbance in cellular homeostasis, which can be induced via pesticides' primary action like perturbation of ion channels, enzymes, receptors, etc., or can as well be mediated via pathways other than the main mechanism. In this review, we present the highlighted evidence on the association of pesticide's exposure with the incidence of chronic diseases and introduce genetic damages, epigenetic modifications, endocrine disruption, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, endoplasmic reticulum stress and unfolded protein response (UPR), impairment of ubiquitin proteasome system, and defective autophagy as the effective mechanisms of action.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / etiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / chemically induced
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / chemically induced
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Parkinson Disease, Secondary / chemically induced
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Unfolded Protein Response / drug effects


  • Pesticides